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Lord Glenelg was MP for Kilkenny and Secretary of State for the Colonial Department, when Briggs painted the primary version of this work: a full-length portrait of the sitter as he appeared at the coronation of Queen Victoria in 1837, standing before a classical column and a swathe of green fabric. The portrait was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1840. It had been commissioned by the ‘Colonial House of Assembly’ in New Brunswick, Canada, to be placed in the Assembly Room of the city of Saint John. The House of Commons also made provision for a similar portrait from the artist.
This smaller version of the work was formerly the property of Dr. William Chambers, Physician-in-Ordinary to William IV and first cousin to Lord Glenelg. It was originally a three-quarter length portrait but, as a result of water damage, it was cut down by a picture restorer in 1949. It is not clear whether this is the work commissioned by the House of Commons (now untraced) or a version which remained unsold at the studio sale of artist Henry Peronet Briggs in 1844. The primary version of the painting remains in the collection of the Legislative Assembly of New Brunswick, Canada.
Henry Perronet Briggs was born in Walworth, south-east London. His father held a senior position in the Post Office. He was 14 when two of his drawings were published in ‘The Gentleman’s Magazine’. He entered the Royal Academy Schools in 1811 and in 1813 moved to Cambridge, where he painted portraits of scholars. In the following year, he returned to London. Briggs exhibited 19 historical and Shakespearean subjects at the British Institution (1819-30) and was elected a Royal Academician in 1832; from then concentrating on portraiture. In 1838 he was in first place in the ‘Fraser’s Magazine’ list of ‘Best Victorian Painters’. However, Briggs and his wife, Elizabeth, became infected with tuberculosis; Elizabeth dying in 1839, Briggs in 1844.
Charles Grant, Baron Glenelg (1778-1866) politician
Oil on canvas
height: 76.50 cm, width: 63.50 cm
Presented by Flt Lt W F A Chambers, April 1962
Possibly collection of the artist; by whose executors, sold though Christie’s, London, on 27 April 1844 (Lot 590), bought in; collection of Dr William Chambers K.C.H. Physician-in-Ordinary to William IV (first cousin of the sitter); by descent to Flight Lieutenant W. F. A. Chambers, damaged and cut down; by whom presented to the Ministry of Works in April 1962
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